The Marhaver Lab is a marine biology research lab and a science communication skunkworks, both working to help corals build the badass reefs of the future. We decode puzzles and pioneer methods so that everyone can grow more corals, faster. The Lab hosts students from around the world for projects in coral ecology, reproduction, and restoration.

At the helm, Dr. Kristen Marhaver is a coral reef scientist, a coral reproduction expert, and a voice for smarter ocean conservation. She's also a TED Senior Fellow, a WINGS Fellow, a National Geographic Explorer, and a World Economic Forum Young Scientist, if we're keeping track of that sort of thing.


  • SciFoo: Kristen co-chaired a session on Ocean Biotechnology with four leaders on the topic. A major conclusion: Compared to medicine and agriculture, we're far too timid in our innovation and in our investments for the ocean. Time to move faster, aim higher, and fund more coral biotech. 

  • ICRS2020: Kristen is co-chairing a session at ICRS with Kelly Speare and Aaron Hartmann. "How will the coral populations of today affect the ecology and recovery of coral reefs in the future?" Join us in Theme 2 - Submit your abstract here by Sept 1st!

  • SPAWNING IS HERE: You can support the corals and humans of the Marhaver Lab by donating your coral money HERE. We're pretty sure you have coral money laying around - Help us grow more corals! P.S.: Multiplier is our U.S.-based 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor and you look really smart in that outfit.

  • Our work on Assisted Gene Flow was mentioned in the new National Academies report on coral interventions. Kristen was quoted in their rollout video and shown eagerly cheering on animals that grow 1 cm/year.

  • WORK WORK WORK WORK SHOP: For our new NSF project on Engineering Reef Recovery, we hosted five researchers from UIUC and SDSU for 10 days of coral spawning work at CARMABI. The yield: two new divers, four new coral spawning practitioners, dozens of new substrate formulations, tens of thousands of coral larvae, and one new flow chamber named WHIPLASH. (If you must ask: Water Hurling Interspersed Planula Larvae Across Substrates, Hopsakay.)

  • ARUBA! With scientists from Scripps, Waitt Institute, and CARMABI, Kristen helped survey 53 sites on Aruba to create the baseline data for the island's new marine park. Each of us swam >10 km underwater and spent over 3 hours on safety stops. There were shenangians.

  • SCI-COMM: To study the craft, Kristen attended the WEF Sci-Comm training in London. Highlights included improv classes from Hoopla, podcasting lessons from Gareth Mitchell, and photo composition tips from the lovely curators at London's Natural History Museum. Unfortunately, a posh British accent was not included.

  • DREAM TEAM. Fall coral spawning approaches! Field ninjas Lucas Tichy and Daisy Flores will return this fall to build on their epic achievements from 2018. Completing the roster for 2019 are UIUC Postdoc Mark Levenstein and intern Sophie Schönherr. With Sophie as our first Luxembourgish team member, our lab tally of countries represented is up to 7!

  • HOMECOMING: Kristen was the plenary speaker for Wichita Collegiate School's Senior Mentor Breakfast. After passing a high-pressure high school oral exam, again, she spoke for the equally-brilliant-but-now-less-intimidating audiences at San Diego Coral Club and Biodiversity Funders Group.

  • We got the cover: Molecular Ecology featured Kristen's photo of baby corals on the cover of their January 2019 issue, alongside Aaron Hartmann's elegant paper on coral symbiosis.

  • WITH THE ASSIST: With colleagues from the Smithsonian, Mote Marine Lab, and The Florida Aquarium, we achieved the first assisted gene flow in Caribbean corals, and the first fertilization of the threatened Elkhorn Coral Acropora palmata using cryopreserved sperm. This creates powerful new tools for coral conservation, gene banking, and reef restoration. Video here. Preprint here!

  • ARE WE HAVING FUND YET? It's the end of the year! Baby corals are experts in long-term planning and they're here to help you with your tax deductions. You can even donate stock to baby corals because they hate capital gains taxes, too. (Disclaimer: Don't take tax advice from baby corals.)

  • Tiny Corals Big World: Kristen was a plenary speaker at Reef Futures 2018, the biggest meeting of the Coral Restoration Consortium to date.

  • New Paper on the tricky metabolic relationship between coral larvae and their supposedly-helpful symbionts. Congrats to lead author and brilliant collaborator Dr. Aaron Hartmann.

  • New NSF grant! With funding from NSF's inter-disciplinary Convergence Research program, we're collaborating with UIUC and SDSU to apply advanced materials engineering and fluid physics to the design of coral settlement surfaces. Press release here.

  • Kristen moderated the Blue Economy panel at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin.

  • GENE BANKING IS VERY COOL. With a generous grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, we installed our own liquid nitrogen gene bank and learned coral cryopreservation from the amazing Hagedorn Lab of HIMB and SCBI. We've already cryopreserved hundreds of billions of sperm cells from three endangered coral species. Their new home at -196C is literally so cool.

  • Coral spawning is HERE. Research interns Daisy Flores and Lucas Tichy proved their mettle with 16 consecutive nights of diving in August. Intrepid lab volunteers Greg Boecker and Katie Leeper rounded out this year's spawning team, contributing their talents and time in the lab and underwater.

  • The Trust for Conservation Innovation is now Multiplier Project Accelerator. As our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, Multiplier expertly manages our grants and donations with high precision, high speed, and low overhead. We're so grateful to work with this organization. Also, we have a new donations page and your hair look great today.

  • The Economist and Economist Radio recently covered our research on coral probiotics.

  • Bachelor's student Kiki Bals finished her successful histology study of coral fertilization. Kristen recently presented these data at ECRS in Oxford and at Harvard MCZ.

  • We've joined the BMMO Network to advance the study of Beneficial Microbes for Marine Organisms; you can follow the Network on Twitter here​.

  • New grant from National Geographic CRE will accelerate our research on coral probiotics for reef restoration. Can you help, too? We're raising matching funds on our donations page.

  • Kristen's new TED Talk has 1 Million views!

  • New paper in Conservation Letters shows healthy coral populations produce up to 200x more larvae than degraded populations.

  • The Coral Restoration Consortium is born. We will be sharing resources and methods widely through the CRC Larval Propagation Working Group.

  • New in-depth webinar on coral spawning methods for the reef restoration community. (For the PDF version, email here or join the Reef Resilience Coral Restoration Group here.)

  • New paper in Coral Reefs on propagating the quirky Caribbean brain coral Diploria labyrinthiformis. PDF here.

  • The Marhaver Lab is now an operating project of the Trust For Conservation Innovation. You can become one of our fabulous, good-looking lab supporters here.

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